City council accepts pool, land; eyes future

VERGENNES — Vergennes aldermen on Tuesday voted unanimously to sign the deed that will give the city ownership of 11.22 acres of land near Vergennes Union High School, land that houses the city’s recreation facilities, including the Vergennes pool.
The land had been owned by the Vergennes ID school board, and the pool had been maintained by a volunteer committee. The city is now taking over that task and has been planning to do so in recent months.
Now, City Manager Mel Hawley said, aldermen should start thinking about options for the second parcel in the deal, choices that might range from a sale to development as parkland. The recreation facilities are on a 3.09-acre parcel, and the adjacent vacant 8.13-acre tract lies behind homes on New Haven Road.
“The city council should keep this on their mind,” he said. “What we’re going to do with it, the council should look at it at some point.”
Mayor Mike Daniels said some had suggested to him that the land could be used for more walking paths.
In other business, aldermen:
• Applauded as Police Chief George Merkel awarded a citation to Officer Brent Newton for his “exemplary year” in motor vehicle enforcement in 2009, specifically in addressing the “clear and present danger” of drunk driving. Merkel said Newton issued 24 citations for impaired driving, almost half the department’s total of 51 last year. Merkel also praised that total itself, which he said was greater than that in 2009 of the police department in the much larger city of Rutland.
• Watched Merkel present the department canine, Akido, who demonstrated his drug-sniffing skills by finding a hidden bag of marijuana. Merkel said Akido is also certified for patrol work, and is capable of finding evidence, flushing suspects out of hiding places in buildings, tracking, officer protection and, because of his friendly nature, building good community relations.
• Heard from Hawley that there would be room in the budget for paving projects this year, and that although many areas needed work the highest priorities would probably be Comfort Hill and Ice House Court.
• Heard from Alderman David Austin that the skate park committee still needs volunteers to supervise the park before it can be open as often as committee members would like. Those interested may reach Austin at 349-5543. Austin said the committee has discussed paid supervision, a move that would mean charging a fee to use the park.
• Heard from Hawley that plots are available in the city’s community garden, which is on a corner of the Northlands Job Corps campus. Hawley said the garden fund has a slight surplus from last year, and there would be no charge for a plot in the garden this year, but that those interested must register and sign up. Forms are available at City Hall, and those seeking more information may call Carol Kress at 759-7777.
Reporter Andy Kirkaldy is at [email protected].

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